Whereas it cannot be said that Fochriw ranks high in literary ability I have included the era of “Penny Readings”, examples of writings about Fochriw and items, such as poems, by local inhabitants.
The era of Penny Readings had its birth in Fochriw at the National School when the first of a series of such meetings was held each Thursday, presided over by the Reverend T L Davies. Penny Readings had developed in the area through the efforts of Canon William Evans, the very popular incumbent of St David's Church, Rhymney, whose enthusiasm and foresight were to lead to the triangle of Rhymney, Fochriw and Pontlottyn.
In their original form Penny Readings were meant to attract people away from the evils of the public houses by introducing them to an alternative form of entertainment which, it was hoped would whet their appetites and draw them to a chapel environment.
Held in public houses, earlier readings were often comical affairs with a competitive go-as-you-please atmosphere and very often developing into farcical proportions. Emphasis was later placed on culture, poetry, musical presentation and hymn singing and this was to lead to centres of cultural arts and learning being established away from the public house atmosphere.
By the latter half of the 1800's Penny Readings had become synonymous with the Eisteddfod Fach, the small eisteddfod, competitive and with an educational content that continued to enhance the outlook of its followers.
Penny Readings in Fochriw were strictly conducted in the Welsh language for many years after other villages had begun to include English additions to their agenda. So widespread had the readings become in the neighbourhood that it became possible for people to attend one every evening of the week, if they so wished, by short visits to Rhymney, Pontlottyn and Fochriw.
Readings, in turn, provided schooling experience for those who were later to find fame in literary and musical fields.
The well-known Rhymney poet, Idris Davies, who, in 1953, died at the age of 48 of cancer wrote the following poem about Fochriw.